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From Bananas to Blue Cheese: When can a Baby be called a “Foodie”?

Posted in: Nutrition    Pediatrics    

Recently we learned that our little toddling cherub likes blue cheese stuffed olives. On days when I work my husband brings our son by on my lunch break so that baby can nurse, and while wandering through a local deli one day waiting for my lunch break to start he bought some blue cheese-stuffed olives on an impulse.

Our son is a curious little fella so it was no surprise that he wanted a sample of what daddy had. Dad gave him a nibble thinking “Please don’t like it, please don’t like it” (because daddy didn’t want to share!), but fat chance. Like an obedient baby bird his mouth dropped open awaiting the next bite of daddy’s delicacy.

On the one hand I think “Aren’t we lucky to have such a good eater?” (most of the time….when we found out he likes Dungeness crab we had to reevaluate our retirement plans!), but on the other hand I/we have been consciously training his palate since introducing him to the delights of solid foods.

He wasn’t always a gregarious explorer of flavours. He was a little over six months old (corrected) when we first started him on non-breastmilk options. First up was bone broth from an organic, pasture-fed, (hipster), cow’s knee from our local butcher. Bone broth is brilliant for supporting the development of a strong and resilient digestive tract but admittedly a little bland. My motivation on the outset of starting solids was firstly, health and nutrition, and secondly, taste and palate training, so I began the journey by ensuring the health of his GI tract.

Every few days he tried a new whole food – just one at a time at first so that we could note any reactions (which he luckily never had). We tried him on bananas, avocados, yams, and egg yolk and he turned pointedly away. Cooked carrots were met with an equal lack of enthusiasm, while unsweetened apple sauce earned a full body shudder of horror! He looked…insulted…almost, with a face that said “What is that horrible stuff mum and why do you keep putting it in my mouth?”

He was happy enough to teethe on cold, hard foods such as carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks, as well as strips of sweet pepper, but what was good enough for gumming on was clearly not welcome for actual eating.2015-05-19 15.05.10

Two months of repeatedly introducing and reintroducing small spoonfuls of food in to his little mouth, with full rejection of everything, left me discouraged. I had visions of sending him to school one day with a lunchbox full of expressed breast milk, and apologetic refusals of lunch dates or birthday parties in which he might be expected to consume something that I hadn’t produced myself.

He looked interested at all foods that we on the table…right up until the moment when it was actually offered to him, and then it was “No way!” with tightly sealed lips and a dramatic head turn away from us.

But we persevered and lo and behold! One day out of the blue he willingly and enthusiastically gobbled down dinner…and then had the same sized portion again…and then again…and then again! With the flick of some invisible and intangible switch he ate four times more at one meal than he ever had before in a single sitting!! He was FINALLY into food.

Since then he has eaten from our plates. Plain foods became more complex over time. At first I picked out the cucumber and peppers from my Greek salad as they were familiar flavours to him as teething sticks (albeit now they came with vinegar and herbs), but as he kept up the interest that evening I branched out.

I gave him a little of the tomato, watched and waited. He gummed, swallowed, and opened his mouth for more.

Okay then kiddo, here’s a nibble of raw, red onion. Good mum, what’s next (open mouth).

Howsabout some kalamata olive? Yum! More! (open baby bird mouth). We were off!

 

I’m so glad that we never started with bland, pasty baby cereal. We stuck to our guns and repeatedly offered foods that are nutritionally dense, colourful, and flavourful and gave him time (and then more time) for his taste buds to adjust and for his palate to develop. His growth wasn’t affected in the slightest during this time, and now meal times are a pleasure for all involved.

Now it would seem that we just need to keep him away from the lobster and caviar…lest he bankrupt us as his appetite grows!